Java enthusiasts rejoice! A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and AARP reveals that drinking coffee — whether caffeinated or decaffeinated — could reduce the risk of death in older adults.
The study followed 400,000 U.S. men and women aged 50 to 71 from their entry into the study (which would have been some time in 1995 or 1996) until they died or until Dec. 31, 2008, whichever came first. The researchers found that participants’ risk of death decreased with the amount of coffee consued. Those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had a 10 percent lower risk of death.
According to NIH, the study showed a link between coffee consumption and decreased risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes and infection. The study did not show that coffee decreased participants’ risk of death from cancer. In fact, there was a slight association of heavier coffee intake with increased risk of cancer death among me.
Researchers said the study failed to identify exactly how coffee decreased the risk of death from certain causes, but the study pointed out that the beverage contains more than a thousand compounds that could affect health. Andrea Valenti, clinical nutrition manager at Bridgeport Hospital said, among other things, coffee contains antioxidants, which have a number of health benefits.
Valenti said she’s long believed that coffee is beneficial to consumers, and cheered the report. “I was so excited when I heard about this,” she said. Valenti said she knows some people might have avoided coffee because they thought it actually had a negative impact on their health.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that these latest findings are the last word on coffee, Valenti said. “People have to be aware that anything having to do with nutrition can change depending on what studies are being done,” she said.
Indeed, the study researchers cautioned that the data might not reflect long-term patterns of intake. Also, information was not available on how the coffee was prepared — for instance, if it was boiled, filtered, etc. Valenti also pointed out that a “cup” of coffee at many chain restaurants could be as much as 16 or 20 ounces, which is actually equal to two or three standard cups of java. Still, if you’re looking for an excuse to fuel up on coffee this morning, you’ve got one. Just tell people that you’re trying to improve your health, one cup at a time.